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Idaho's Republican dairy farmers embrace socialism

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Ray Ring | Aug 26, 2010 02:50 PM

This is a good counterpoint to the rightwing Tea Party accusations that Obama and Congressional Democrats are "socialists" because they increase the government's role in health care and economic stimulus and so on.

Dairy farmers in Idaho -- and around the country -- want new federal subsidies that would guarantee they make a certain profit above the cost of feeding the cows. As the Twin Falls Times-News reports, they're effectively a national movement of dairy farmers and dairy corporations advocating for that socialist goal.

The federal government already funnels billions into dairies through complex obscure handouts such as the Dairy Product Price Support Program, which guarantees that dairies get a certain price for their milk. But all those government handouts still allow dairy farmers to suffer hard times occasionally, which is happening now because of the global economic meltdown. So the dairy farmers' movement -- led by the National Milk Producers Federation -- wants Congress to OK a new handout called the Dairy Producers Margin Protection Program. If the "Margin Protection" handout is OK'd, dairy farmers and dairy corporations would get a guaranteed profit above their cow-feeding costs, no matter how their costs fluctuate.

Jerry Kozak, president of the National Milk Producers Federation, explains some of the rationale for this "reform" thusly: Right now, "there are producers who are receiving (government) checks when they don't need them. ... We've got to make it so producers don't get a check when they don't need it." Well, that sounds like an OK goal in and of itself -- hand out the government money only to those who need it.

And since they're Idaho farmers, and farmers in general, we can assume they're mostly conservative Republicans who -- in other venues -- often rail against Big Government and the taxes that raise the money for their subsidies.

File this under Shameless Hypocrites -- a folder that's getting fat.

 

 

 

 

It ain't just dairy farmers
Felice Pace
Felice Pace
Oct 17, 2010 05:17 PM
Hey Ray, it is not just dairy farmers who want Uncle Sam to guarantee their income. From the New Deal onward we've been conditioning those involved in agriculture to expect special consideration from lawmakers and generous subsidies courtesy of US taxpayers. I just wrote about an example on HCN's A Just West blog. As you will read there, i think the special treatment of Ag is a result of the American Agrarian Myth and its continuing hold on Americans...especially westerners. But the "give me your subsidies and then go away" mentality has been particularly strong in the West and has not been limited to Ag folks. Someday we have got to grow up and stop looking to Big Daddy Washington to help us along.

About Ray

Ray has been a Western journalist since 1979. He's now High Country News senior editor, based in Bozeman, Montana. He's earned national recognition including a George Polk Award for political reporting, a Sidney Hillman Foundation Journalism Award for investigating oil-field accidents, and an Investigative Reporters & Editors scroll for going undercover as a prison inmate. He's had three novels published.

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